Pecan Bars Two Ways – With and Without A Heath Toffee Topping

I have been wanting to bake for weeks now but felt held back by the part of me that had 100 pumpkin recipes on their mind but no pumpkin and the part of me that has been too tired with a husband at sea, a toddler to keep up with, pregnancy and most recently a stomach bug. So much fun right? The combo left me in bed unsure what to do except for watching Netflix, crocheting Yule presents and reading when I wasn’t Mommy-ing. Today, I finally got the push to make these pecan bars! You can make them two ways! One with Heath bar bits like I added here or alternatively with an extra half a cup of pecans and no Heath toffee. Up to you! It’s a very easy recipe to alter. I just happened to have Heath bar pieces my mother in law sent last week so I thought I would put them to use. 

For the CRUST you will need:

*3 cups flour

*1 cup brown sugar 

*1 cup/ 2 sticks melted butter (or butter substitute)

*1/2 teaspoon salt 
For the FILLING you will need:

*1 cup brown sugar 

*1 stick or half a cup of butter (or butter substitute)

*2 cups of pecans if not using Heath bar OR alternatively 1.5 cups pecans and half a cup to a cup of Heath bar bits. Crushed or whole are fine. I already had these crushed from a previous recipe. You can also simply use chocolate bits.

*1/3 cup honey (you can try maple syrup if looking for a vegan alternative but the flavor may be strong)

*2 tsp sweetened condensed milk (heavy cream was in the original recipe or you can use a nut milk)

*1 tsp vanilla (optional)

*1/2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin spice (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then cover your chosen pan (I used glass) with non-stick aluminum foil. Or grease regular aluminum foil before use. I would suggest a deeper pan around two inches deep as the contents will bubble. 

To make the crust mix all the ingredients well. 

Dump into prepared dish and press down evenly from corner to corner. 

Bake for 20 minutes. 

About 5 minutes or so before the crust is done baking start the filling! Mix the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and honey together in a pot. Stir on medium low for 2 minutes. 

Mix in vanilla and spices if so desired. They are optional. 

Add in pecans. Stir. Turn heat off and set aside until the crust is done. 

When the crust is ready remove from the oven and immediately pour in pecan mixture. Use a spoon or other tool to even it out. 

Bake 10 minutes before adding the Heath topping. Bake an additional 10 minutes after you have evenly added the topping. If you do not plan on adding a topping let bake untampered with for 20 minutes until done. 

Once finished let cool completely before removing from pan using the foil and slicing into bars. Enjoy! 

Banana-Pumpkin Bread Recipe

There are two things I never say no two: banana bread and pumpkin bread. Today was one of those days where they both sounded good. Good thing I had some frozen extra ripe bananas (they may be ugly and smooshy but they are super sweet!) and pumpkin purée I could take out to defrost and use. 

This recipe makes two yummy loaves. Eat fresh, freeze one for later or gift a loaf to a friend! 

You will need

*5 cups all purpose flour 

*4 extra ripe bananas

*4 eggs (ground flaxseed works as a vegan alternative)

*2 2/3 cup pumpkin purée 

*1 cup honey (maple syrup or agave can be used as an alternative)

*1 cup sugar. I prefer half white and half brown sugar in banana bread but all I had was white sugar today. Raw sugar works too. 

*1 cup nuts (optional). I chose pecans. 

*4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or to taste for the spices)

*2 teaspoons cinnamon 

*1 teaspoon salt

*1/2-1 cup other add ins like chocolate chips, etc. 

*butter or oil to grease bread pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mash bananas together with the pumpkin purée. I forgot to here but it helps.

Add in honey, sugar and oil. Mix well! 

Add in dry ingredients and mix until smooth. You can fold in the nuts and anything else you might want to add in after but I chose to put them in here. 

Grease two bread pans. I used a brush with room temperature butter. 

Pour or scoop the mixture into the two bread pans evenly. 

Bake for 1 hour up to around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Depends on your oven, add ins, et cetera. 

Pop out of bread pans after a minute or so then let cool before consuming (I know it’s hard to wait). Enjoy! 

Freezing and Storing Water Kefir Grains

I have found that as of late our water kefir concoctions have not been used as much. My daughter was the only one who wanted some. Pregnancy made the taste and smell suddenly unpalatable and my husband was working 12-16 hour shifts and not gone to drink it. I decided instead of stressing out and starving the grains by accident through forgetfulness and underuse that I would store them until a time they could be used more. I decided to freeze them. 

To freeze your water kefir grains (milk kefir grains need an additive before freezing so this is specifically just for water kefir grains) you will first need to dry your grains. I added a piece of fruit to my jar the day prior to color the grains a bit. They are essentially clear so they can be potentially overlooked if you drop any. First you will need a fine strainer to clear off the liquid. I use a plastic strainer as some suggest using metal can have adverse effects on the grains in time. The plastic is also easy to poke and manipulate if any of the grains decide to stick. 

Then use a paper towel to let them sit and dry for 2-3 hours at least. You can pat them down slightly if you wish. We generally use crocheted dish cloths and store bought cloths in our home but this made it easier to see the tiny grains. 

Place in a jar when dried (they will still be gelatinous but fluffier). Close with a tight lid and place in the freezer. I stuck mine all the way in the back. A deep freezer would be even better. These should last at least 2 months in a regular freezer that is opened a few times a day. Longer can be attempted but it seems the longer they are frozen the more of a chance they have to not do great when defrosted. 

To use again simply defrost in the fridge for a day (or more of you have a larger amount of grains). Then feed well and place in a warm area. Water kefir grains love to be warm! 

Pumpkin Coffee Creamer Recipe

As soon as Fall items began to appear in July we started stocking up. We love Fall so much we even were handfasted in it and had a Fall and Norse themed reception. Our home includes Fall decor and color schemes all year round as well. This Summer despite the heat we have been burning Pumpkin Spice candles and my husband keeps an eye out for pumpkin spice flavored goodies alongside me. When I found pumpkin spice coffee a few days ago at Target (Archer Farms brand) I snatched it up! We’re obsessed and we’re not ashamed to admit it! Going home with the coffee I wanted to use a special creamer along with it. My regular varieties wouldn’t do. Luckily, I had all the ingredients to make my own Pumpkin Creamer! It’s easy and delicious! I made a large batch to test it out with a friend. You can easily cut the recipe in half or double it for big batches! 

You will need: 

*3 cups milk of choice. I used cashew milk as its thicker than my almond milk but you can use other milk alternatives, half and half, whole milk, plain vegan creamer, etc. 

*4 heaping tablespoonfuls of pumpkin purée (I may have made mine overflow because mmm PUMPKIN)

*4 tablespoons of REAL Maple Syrup (you can also use brown sugar, agave or even molasses but I would cut the amount of molasses in half) 

*1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Add all ingredients together! I put everything except the milk in first purely to show the ingredients for this post.

Turn heat on high and began whisking constantly and consistently. 

Keep whisking until concoction begins to boil.

Turn off heat and continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so (my pan gets super hot so I don’t just leave it in case of burning). 

Let cool! You can use it immediately in coffee or chill in the fridge. I tend to use refrigerated creamers as my additive to cool hot coffee. On hot days I drink cold brew so having cool creamer helps with that as well. Shake well before using! 

This should last about one week in the fridge. It depends on how often you open it, take it out, fridge temperature, etc. If you drink coffee a lot and blow through creamer I would make a large batch of this and keep jars of it in the freezer to last you all season! Defrost in the fridge for a day or two and use! Enjoy! 

Timehop Memories

Yesterday morning I checked my Timehop as usual looking for photos of my toddler from the year prior. When doing so I found this image from six years ago. It was a younger me before I cut off all my hair collecting vegetables in my Opa’s garden. I don’t remember who took the picture. Most likely one of my younger sisters. It brought back so many memories. Some vague images of my mom’s vegetable garden when I was very small and then our large future gardens of mostly herbs and flowers when we (my sisters, mom and eventually my step-dad) were older and living elsewhere. I also remember my Opa’s ranch type home that once had livestock before my time on this earth. Then when he moved a state away when I was a pre-teen he slowly made a few gardens in his new home. A vegetable patch, a few apple trees, berry bushes and a small greenhouse among other things. All with his own hands as is his way (and which I admire). 

My childhood was full of farmers markets and swap meets. Handmade and homemade goods. My mom teaching us crafts and giving us the freedom to explore any interest that took hold of us as kids and teens and also the freedom to explore outside on our own. All alongside stories of her own childhood with talk of her animals and growing up on the glorious chunk of land I got to grow up with as well before it was sold and sadly modernized by the new owners. Of course there were other inspirations from both sides of the family but she was there to inspire us the most. 

It’s funny to me now to see how different my sisters and I are. We all had nearly the same upbringing (my youngest sister is 14 so she has a little bit different of an experience) but have different interests. My husband and I want to live a little more rurally with a farm and animals. Eventually, using my talents (and his since he picks everything up at lighting speed so he will undoubtedly learn faster than I did) to create and sell goods we made from our land at markets and such. The others I won’t speak for but though they seem to both love crafting and fresh farm food I’m not sure they want to live a life smelling like natural fertilizer and farm animal fiber. Which is perfectly well! 

Another part of me knows this yearning is naturally part of me. Whether through genetics or being born with the interest at heart. I have wanted it for so long. If you have read some of my blogs that weren’t recipes or how-to ‘s you would know that even as a child I felt this pull to the homesteading life. Nothing is more frustrating than living somewhere that you can’t live as you wish. I see the space we have and want to fill it with chickens and a garden instead of cement and mostly unusable plants. You can’t rush dreams though! So until the land we want makes itself available (we are always on the lookout!) I’ll be learning and growing through books and small hands on experiences. 

Homemade Chicken Broth/Stock

We love soup. There really isn’t more to say about it! Any time of the year is soup time. Even when it’s hot! In the past few months we have been unfortunate enough to purchase two boxes of stock that were opened. The second we even looked at the seal but apparently not hard enough. When we have fresh herbs and such handy we just let the soup we are making create its own broth. For these however I was making really basic chowders that needed something already made for it. I KNEW BETTER than to just buy some but sometimes when you are pregnant and without much time and just want a bowl of chowder before you scream at someone…then you buy store bought stock. Luckily, I had some dried ingredients I used to create a quick stock after opening another already opened box. Sometimes I’m not always so lucky though.

We had another super convenience food buy recently as well. A store made rotisserie chicken. We also picked up a raw chicken to cook the next day. I used the carcasses and odd uneaten bits to turn into a broth. I started with just one in a enameled cast iron pot. I added vegetable scraps, dried herbs, spices and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help pull goodness from the bones. I noticed even on low the container would get too hot. So I transferred it to a crock pot with another carcass and set it on low for about 4 hours then on warm for another 20 or so. I wasn’t keeping too close of track. Some recipes say 8 hours is good while others suggest 24…so choose what works for you! 

I strained off the chunky bits and put the stock in mason jars to freeze. Mine had some fat and such in it that rose to the top but that tasty goodness will be delicious in future recipes. When you want to use them just leave out to defrost! We use stock often so these jars were a good size for us but you can portion them differently easily! 

There are many health benefits to stock made like this compared to store bought. Minerals from the bone marrow, potassium, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc! You can get similar or all these and more from other animal broths/stocks as well. Vegetable broth is also very healthy if not moreso! Happy homesteading! 

Crepes! Crepes! Crepes! Recipe 

The first crepe I can remember eating was in San Francisco as a young teenager. Since then the only food labeled crepes I had were those I made myself. I had been blessed with having German pancakes my Opa and Mom made me during my lifetime that were basically the same thing but I had never learned their recipes. Looking for German pancakes online led me to what we always called: “Dutch baby.” Another family favorite. I decided to stay with this crepe recipe. I love how versatile they are. They can be made sweet, sour, salty or savory or some kind of blend of all. Filled with anything from jam to bacon bits to fresh fruit or custard or whipped cream. They are even delicious just with a little butter. My toddler loves them plain and ran off with pieces as soon as I finished cooking them! 

You will need: 

*2 tbsp sugar (white or raw have both worked for me)

*2 eggs 

*2 cups of milk (I used one cup plain kefir with one cup cashew so alternatives things work well) 

*1 cup flour

*1 tbsp melted butter

*1 tsp vanilla extract

*1/3 tsp salt

*oil or butter for cooking

*fillings and toppings of choice

Add all ingredients together in a bowl! 

Mix or whisk until smooth! 

Lightly coat frying pan with oil or butter. 

Depending on the size of your pan and ladle use 3/4 to 1 full scoop of mixture. I used 3/4 at first but moved up to 1 full scoop as my first one was so thin it broke easily. I put my pan on the side then swish the mixture in a circle around the pan until it was even. 


Cook on each side for 1-5 minutes. I cook mine on low to avoid burning and encourage even cooking. So mine take longer. I keep mine warm in the oven while I cook the others as it can take some time to make a batch. 

Use one of these dodads that I can never remember the name of to loosen up the sides as it’s frying. It helps them from crisping up too much and makes it also easier to get a spatula under to flip it. 

Once done you can fill them and roll them up then add toppings! Serve immediately! 
I put homemade nectarine jam in my husbands crepes. Use as little or as much as you please! 

I added a homemade chocolate spread with hand crushed almonds inside two of mine. The third had local raw honey and almonds (it ended up being my favorite one!). 

I topped all of them with butter and powdered sugar! So decadent and delicious! You can use a whipped topping with fresh fruit or a multitude of other toppings and fillings. So many possibilities! Enjoy! 

Maple Cacao Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Bread is a favorite in our house! We even bake it as gifts as we love to experiment with different ingredients we add to our recipes. Share the love! Today, I started with a plan to make chocolate chip banana nut muffins but thought it might be easier to transport a pre-sliced loaf on a walk later today. I wanted something a little different so I looked at our ingredients and saw maple syrup and Droste cacao. Perfect! The maple syrup helps to sweeten the bread as cacao can be bitter. This recipe doesn’t need to include nuts but I added pecans as I love varying textures in my banana bread. This recipe makes two loafs. 

You will need:

*4-6 bananas (2-3 is recommended per loaf)

*3 cups flour

*2 eggs 

*3/4 cups sugar 

*3/4 cups brown sugar 

*1/2 cup melted butter

*1/3 cup maple syrup

*2 tbsp cacao of choice (I used Droste) 

*2 tsp baking soda 

*2 tsp vanilla extract

*1 tsp salt

*optional 1-2 cups of nuts of choice or chocolate chips. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Smash up your bananas! I used half frozen bananas I had chopped up when very ripe (the riper the sweeter they will be) and half fresh. 

Start melting butter.

Add dry ingredients.

Add maple syrup!

Add melted butter! 

Mix lightly before continuing.

Add vanilla and then the eggs.

Dump in nuts if you decided to use then!

Mix mix mix! 

Greased two bread tins then pour your bread mixture in. Bake for 1 hour or until fully cooked. 

Let cool for 3-5 minutes then pop out of containers. 

Let cool then enjoy! 

Nectarine Jam Recipe – No Pectin Needed

Jam making is one of my favorite things to do. If I am to be honest I don’t actually care much for fruit except mostly in smoothies it in infusing drinks. I am a savory flavor person and prefer vegetables. Though, fruits are my favorite to work with. The smells and textures in my hands are so invigorating, sensual and beautiful. The variety of color and the scents they release when worked with are intoxicating. Nectarines are known to represent romantic relationships (especially marriages), fertility, abundance, longevity, love, happiness, et cetera. 

My toddler goes through food phases. She seems to eat ANYTHING if we are out or at a friends house but at home she changes her mind on things she will consume. Recently, she went on a nectarine rampage and we bought piles of them. The last few days she seemed to be “over” them so they have sat ripening more and more. I decided instead of leaving them to make jam instead. I only had three left but you can easily double, triple, etc this recipe. 

You will need: 

*3 whole nectarines 

*1 1/2 cups of sugar

*2 teaspoons of lemon juice

*a dash of spice of choice (optional)

Nectarine skin has natural pectin so don’t peel it! If you prefer not to eat the skin then you will need to add pectin to this recipe. 

Wash and chop nectarines! Toss the pits or save them for other uses.

Place into pot and add lemon juice and sugar. You can add your spices now if you wish or during the last 5 minutes. Some prefer to add it later. I used a dash of cinnamon. 

Turn onto medium heat and stir. Cook for 30 minutes and stir every few minutes.

It should look something like this when close to done. 

You can mash it up with a potato masher if you prefer not to have such big chunks (or chop smaller to begin with). I mashed mine as I may use it for a cookie filling. 

If you’re going to can the jam you can proceed as you wish. I won’t be detailing instructions for that this time around. I decided since it is a small batch that I will be using this weekend that I would just let it cool slightly then add to a container.

Do not add steaming hot jam to a cool or room temperature jar! I let mine cool a little then poured. I added the lid immediately and the little bit of heat left sealed it slightly. I then let it cool more on the counter before refrigerating. Enjoy! 

Scottish Tattie (Potato) Scones Recipe

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who I consider a soul sister about Scottish food (something she’s familiar with). I was asking her about a recipe unrelated to this (which I may share later in the week) but it ended up inspiring me to make Scottish Tattie Scones! Almost like the potato pancakes I am familiar with. They are traditionally (or so I have read) served as part of breakfast alongside other things such as bacon, eggs and other flour or oat based scones. 

You will need: 

*4 Russet Potatoes (I used 5 large red potatoes)

*1/2 cup flour plus extra for shaping, etc

*1/4 stick of room temperature butter (plus more for frying if not using bacon fat or oil of choice)

*1 tsp salt (some may prefer less)

Boil the potatoes until fully cooked! All recipes I have tried say to remove the skins after but I don’t like waste so I keep them. Boiling them in the skins supposedly enhances the potato flavor as well. It also makes the skins easy to remove without a peeler. You can pinch and remove them by hand after draining. 

Remove all water and mash! Having a dry texture is what you want. 

Add salt and butter. I added smoked paprika, dill and black pepper. Most recipes only use salt and butter to flavor however. 

Then add the flour! Mix well.

Flour a surface and drop your mixture onto it. If you need to let it cool more to work with that’s fine! It actually works better cooler as its not releasing heat and getting sticky when rolling out. 

Divide into 4-5 sections. More or less depending on how small you will be making your circles. You can also just roll out everything and use a round cookie cutter to cut out bits. The way I did it is how I see it more commonly done.

Take a section and mold into a ball. Roll in more flour if needed.

Roll out until at least 1/4 of an inch thick. Many are made thinner but I find that too difficult to work with. 

Poke with a fork all over the flattened piece then cut into fourths. 

Prepare griddle with butter or the more popular bacon fat. Mine had tasty leftover juices from chicken I had cooked earlier in it. You’ll want the griddle hot!

Place sections in and fry until golden brown on each side. 

Set on a paper towel or cloth to absorb extra liquids.

Serve hot! The scones can be refried or toasted as a meal later as well and are still delicious! Enjoy!